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Games that Support Language and Reasoning Skills

Check out our post on the best games for language skills, as seen on the American-Speech Hearing Association website.

Games that Support Language and Reasoning Skills

Parents of elementary and middle school children always ask me what they can do at home to carry over skills they learned in treatment. Many of my students learn well through experiences—educational activities include sightseeing, concerts or plays, museum visits, or watching documentaries. Sometimes though, enjoying family-bonding time gets tricky with loud music and screaming fans all around you or while navigating crowds to see an exhibit. And cold winter days are fast approaching. A quiet game night can present an ideal option for a relaxing evening without sensory overload.

I find the following language-building games excellent choices for those educational—albeit relaxing—evenings or frigid winter weekends.


How to play: “Taboo” is a fun and family-friendly board game. When it’s their turn, players take a card and describe a word or phrase to their teammates without using any of the taboo hints listed on the card. The other players guess the word on the card to earn points for their team.

Why it works: Carrying over language-based skills can be a challenge. For children with language-based learning difficulties, this game helps reinforce:

  • Describing, which helps children express their ideas in a specific, clear and effective way

  • Word-retrieval skills

  • Listening skills

  • Gathering and synthesizing information

Extra language twist: Encourage players to ask “wh” questions to get more information about the object. And for added structure, remind your child to describe by category, how you use it, what it looks like and where you find it

“Last Word” and “Scattergories”

How to play: These two games are similar. In both, players choose a “Category Card.” For “Scattergories,” you set a timer for two to three minutes and write down as many categorically related objects as possible. If you write down the same ones, they don’t count, so try to get creative! For “Last Word,” you say the categorically related objects aloud, without repeating!

Why it works: For children with language-based learning difficulties, both games help reinforce:

  • word retrieval

  • rapid naming

  • brainstorming related ideas

  • word relations

  • “Last Word” Supports working memory, removes the graphomotor component and adds in a workout for your working memory, since there is no writing involved.

Both games are entertaining when you see the unique items on one another’s lists!

“Apples to Apples” and “Apples to Apples Jr.”

How to Play: Each player receives five cards with nouns and verbs on them. Players take turns being “judge.” The judge chooses an adjective card from the pile. The rest of the players choose a noun or a verb from their hand that best fits with the adjective card. The judge chooses a card that they think best fits and explains the reasoning.

To make it more interesting and to target expressive language, I often add in a debate. The players must explain why their card is the best fit. You can have silly or serious rounds, often resulting in laughter and light-hearted debate.

Why it Works: This game helps to reinforce:

  • Comparisons

  • Describing

  • Grammar (parts of speech)

  • Vocabulary

  • Synonyms

  • Word relations

  • Problem solving and reasoning skills

“Would You Rather?”

How to Play: Players take turns picking and answering a “Would You Rather?” card. The choices can be serious or silly, gross or hilarious!

Why it Works: This game helps to reinforce:

  • Comparisons

  • Describing

  • Vocabulary

  • Reasoning skills

  • Predicting skills

What games do you suggest for families wanting to sneak in learning while enjoying quality time? Share your suggestions and we'll include them in the next post!

Emily Jupiter, M.S., CCC, SLP, is the founder of Alphabet Aerobics Speech and Language Education in Manhattan, a private practice specializing in language-based learning disabilities, executive functioning disorders, dyslexia and ADHD. She is also a language specialist at a private school specializing in support for students with language-based learning disabilities, dyslexia and ADHD.

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